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Utah Jazz 2013 Preview: Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors will be the tandem to watch

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Unless you lived out of state, didn't follow the team, or perhaps coached it (I kid, I kid) -- you may have not noticed that Gordon Hayward was one of our best players the last few seasons. That's not the baffling part. The baffling part was that so was Derrick Favors. Of course in the "life just ain't fair" category we see that the 2010 lottery picks were used in vastly different ways. Hayward was promoted to starter in his second year (somehow lost the job after 5 games in his third) but managed to surpass that magically 2,000 minute per season threshold in two of his first three seasons. Favors is much farther behind, as he played in 252 more minutes in his third season as he did as a rookie. Because his second season was a lockout shortened year he essentially played Kyrylo Fesenko type minutes. He's never gotten close to playing 2,000 minutes before. (Which, btw, is not on him, it's on the coaches or the general manager. The Jazz got rid of a guy who scored 30 ppg four times in five years to make room for a guy going into his second year before when they moved Adrian Dantley for Karl Malone's benefit. But they decided to keep Al Jefferson around (a never ever all-star vs. the HOFer Dantley is) in order to retard Favors' growth?)

That all looks to change this season as both players, now into their fourth year and on the precipice of getting significant raises, will finally have the ball in their hands, and be on the court at the same time.

Let's not mince words here, Hayward as a shooting guard is a much better defender than Randy Foye is. And Derrick Favors as a center is a much better defender than Al Jefferson could ever dream to be. If Gordon is at the three he has to contend with some pretty heavy duty guys but still doesn't back down. Against power forwards Favors will have to contend with more and more face up guys who will draw him out of the paint. Regardless, on defense these two deserved to be on the court more. They will be on the court more this season. And both will help one another out.

So much so that the game plan for the other team will most likely end up being "run a pick and roll with the guys Favors and Hayward AREN'T defending" and try to take them out of the play area as much as possible.

I really believe in their defense, and I think that their length and mobility will cause fits for other teams. Even better is that Hayward doesn't gamble (unlike, say, a guy who got the media to rebrand gambling as hustle like DeMarre Carroll did), and Favors can defend shots without leaving his feet. In a season where we need them to stay out of foul trouble it's good that they can play grounded, fundamentally sound defense.

If there is a problem with these two it appears to be on offense, and that's really only because Favors isn't a one on one scorer just yet and does pick up offensive fouls. Really though? I'm not worried at all because this year we expect our players to be able to counter attack more because of defensive stops (remember what those are Utah Jazz fans?) -- and Hayward is good enough to get the board and run the break, and I'm sure a guy like Favors has learned to trail really well by now. (Karl Malone's voice seems hoarse and it's only October)

These two guys are going to lead our team, and help one another. We saw how John Stockton and Karl Malone worked so well together as a 1 and a 4. Right now? Right now we have a chance to see the evolution of the game as our best players are a wing and a defensive big. Two or three, four or five, it almost doesn't matter anymore -- just as long as they get out on the floor together this year.


N.B. Over their three year career, these two cats have played a grand total of 2,017 minutes together. Which means they're at a first year level, going into their fourth. They need to be together more. Good things will happen.

Hayward + Favors Career on the floor together Averages
2010 2011 Reg 20 273 518 236 115 39 40 -52 13.7 25.9 11.8 5.8 2.0 2.0
2011 2012 Reg 58 664 1365 685 290 93 87 39 11.4 23.5 11.8 5.0 1.6 1.5
2011 2012 Play 4 70 141 67 21 8 11 -12 17.5 35.3 16.8 5.3 2.0 2.8
2012 2013 Reg 67 1010 2046 938 482 183 148 33 15.1 30.5 14.0 7.2 2.7 2.2
Total 149 2017 4070 1926 908 323 286 8 13.5 27.3 12.9 6.1 2.2 1.9

I do think that them being on the court together for about 13.5 mpg is a little too low. Don't you?